Manchin defends his retirement on climate and tax plans, calling for more time

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat of West Virginia, on Friday defended his decision to end his party’s efforts to pass a major climate, energy and tax package this summer, hinting he may still be ready to support such action later. during this year.

Mr. Manchin’s comments, in an interview with a radio host from West Virginia, were the latest example in which the conservative-leaning senator has left room for the possibility that he may eventually support key elements of the agenda of the President Biden even as he positions himself as the Democratic leader standing in the way of their implementation.

His remarks came the day after he indicated in a private conversation with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Majority Leader, that if Democrats moved forward as planned with a legislative package this summer, he wouldn’t. would accept no climate or energy measures or tax increases. about wealthy Americans or corporations.

In the interview with radio host, Hoppy Kercheval, Mr Manchin said he had told Mr Schumer he wanted to wait to act on the climate and fiscal proposals until inflation figures for July were public.

“Let’s wait for it to come out, so we know we’re going the way, it’s not going to be incendiary, to add more to inflation,” Mr. Manchin said he told Mr. Schumer. He added: “Can’t we wait to make sure we don’t do anything to add to this? And I can’t make that decision primarily on taxes of any type, and also on energy and climate.

If Democrats insist on moving forward with legislative action by then, Manchin said, they should only act on proposals to lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand expanded health care subsidies. Affordable Care Act.

This stance effectively scuttled the chance for action in the coming days on a key priority for Democrats and strongly suggested that unless they drop climate and tax proposals altogether, they may not be able to salvage anything. of their domestic policy program before mid-term. legislative elections in November. Inflation figures for July are due out Aug. 10, after the Senate leaves Washington for a five-week summer break.

When lawmakers return in September, they will have only a limited window of time to act on the package. And they are eager to give themselves as much time as possible to campaign on whatever they pass ahead of the November election.

The waiting game has again placed Mr. Manchin at the center of a high-stakes political negotiation for Democrats, who have struggled for months to win his vote on any element of their once ambitious national agenda. They’ve twisted to accommodate his often-shifting dictates and repeatedly scaled back their ambitions to stay within his red lines, but so far have come away empty-handed on their highest priorities.

Because of the Democrats’ narrow 50-50 margin of control in the Senate and unified Republican opposition to most of their top priorities, Mr. Manchin has an effective veto over the party’s legislative strategy – and exercised it often and shamelessly. Bearing the political scars of a year of heated talks, few Democrats seemed willing to bet on Friday that Mr. Manchin would be ready to resume negotiations and resume climate and energy provisions.

One senator, Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, publicly questioned whether Mr. Manchin deserved his chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Using the committee’s abbreviation, Mr. Heinrich wrote on Twitter“Senator Manchin’s refusal to act is infuriating. This makes me wonder why he is president of ENR. He added: “Now is THE time to meet the challenges on which we will be judged – by our children, our grandchildren and future generations. We cannot wait any longer.

In the radio interview, Mr Manchin insisted he remained committed to the negotiations but would not bow to what he described as a pressure campaign from his own left.

“I’m where I’ve been – I wouldn’t put my staff through this, I wouldn’t put myself through this if I wasn’t sincere in trying to find a way forward to do something good for our country,” Manchin said. said. “They can’t pick it off because I have a ‘D’ next to my name or someone has an ‘R’ next to their name, we should do what one side wants . It is not me.”


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